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Nov. 13, 2019 | Wednesday
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Police investigate after over 200 Liberal election signs vanish on weekend
Police are investigating after Liberal party campaign signs were stolen around the Niagara Falls riding over Thanksgiving weekend. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Hundreds of lawn signs supporting Liberal candidate Andrea Kaiser vanished or were stolen over Thanksgiving weekend, says an official with her campaign.

Between 275 and 300 Liberal signs across the Niagara Falls riding, which includes Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie, were removed.

It started in Niagara Falls, and similar incidents happened across the whole riding, including NOTL and Fort Erie, said Read Leask, deputy campaign manager for Andrea Kaiser.

In NOTL, Leask said signs were removed from lawns at homes and businesses on Niagara Stone Road, York Road, Niagara Parkway, Queenston Road, Orchard Drive, Mississauga Street and Gage Street.

Elsewhere across the riding, signs were removed on McLeod Road, Thorold Stone Road, Montrose Road, Swan Drive and St. Paul Road, Leask told The Lake Report.

All the missing signs were legally placed on private property, Leask said.

Security cameras at one business captured images of a car stopping and stealing a Liberal sign. The grainy, low-resolution video has been provided to police, Leask said.

Niagara Regional Police confirmed they received a report of a theft in regard to an election sign in Niagara Falls. The investigation is continuing and no charges have been laid yet, police spokesperson Stephanie Sabourin said in an email response to The Lake Report.

It’s been disappointing as her campaign team and volunteer sign crew have been working hard and illegally removing signs on private property has been “unfortunate,” Kaiser said in a phone interview.

“I would perceive this as a very orchestrated and planned effort to remove my signs. It was obviously not a random act of vandalism.”

Both Kaiser and Leask were careful not to accuse any particular group of stealing their signs, but both have said the incidents started happening after the vote projection for Niagara Falls riding showed the Liberal and Conservatives were running neck-and-neck.

“Maybe there’s a concern we’re doing well and it’s just an unfortunate way to react to that,” Kaiser said.

“I can’t speculate on who did it,” Leask told The Lake Report.

“It happened at a time when it became clear it was close and I’ll say that this happened over the advanced poll weekend, which is a really critical weekend during campaigns, so this was an effort to distract us from getting our vote out.”

Kaiser added despite what happened, she’s received support and offers to help replace the signs.

“We’re continuing to knock on doors and keeping the momentum up and trying to not be distracted from the end goal,” Kaiser said. “It’s been really amazing for people to step up and help us out.”

Green candidate Sandra O’Connor said her team hasn’t experienced anything of the sort, at least nothing they’re aware of. The only incident happened at Betty’s Restaurant in Chippawa but all parties’ signs were removed, not just the Green party’s, O’Connor said.

“If there’s any widescale targeted sign destruction, I think that goes against our democratic way and it’s totally unacceptable,” O’Connor told The Lake Report.

NDP candidate Brian Barker said a handful of signs have gone missing from his campaign, though nowhere near the number of missing or damaged signs Kaiser has experienced.

He said while he may disagree with the other parties in terms of policy, he doesn’t condone damaging or taking signs.

“I respect my opponents. If people have displeasure about what’s happening, they need to decide that at the ballot box, not by trashing signs.”

Conservative candidate Tony Baldinelli said he also has been informed that some of his campaign signs have been damaged.

“With the election ongoing, we have experienced some signs taken and damaged. This past Saturday I got a text photo from a couple of business people in Fort Erie where the signs were damaged and basically cut down the middle,” he said.

Regardless of political affiliation, Baldinelli said there’s no excuse for this to be happening.

“It’s unfortunate and unacceptable,” he said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Niagara police at (905) 688-4111 dial option 4, ext. 2206.

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